Chicago, IL – Amid closures and cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been forced to make drastic changes in this time of uncertainty. For example, the iconic fighting game tournament, Combo Breaker, which takes place every Memorial Day was unfortunately forced to cancel this year. As a result, local man Erik Gaines will not be sleeping on a floor for the first Memorial Day weekend in 5 years.

“It’s been a yearly tradition for me to attend Combo Breaker,” said local player Erik Gaines. “Usually around this time of year I’d be cramming into a tight single bed hotel room with 4 of my closest friends and 6 guys I’ve never met before. We’d stock up the room with drinks and granola bars, forget the cups or something, and then prepare for another unforgettable weekend at the greatest fighting game tournament of all time.”

“Normally I’d be starting my day off by waking up off of the hard, questionably stained carpet, brushing artisan popcorn dust off of my official Combo Breaker shirt, and making my way to the ballroom,” recalled Gaines, who will be sleeping on a comfortable bed this weekend for the first time in years. “On my way there I’d fear for my life as I rode the shaky elevator while still half asleep. I’d then pass the pool room and bring-your-own console area, where I’d wake up by taking in the fresh scent of chlorine and poverty games.”

“I’d finally make my way to the ballroom, check in, and promptly go 0-2 in Dragon Ball FighterZ,” remembered Gaines, who will unexpectedly be sleeping peacefully and comfortably this year. “But that would all be fine because I’d wash away my sorrow with an expensive Vodka Redbull. While I may have been eliminated, the Combo Breaker adventure would only be just getting started.”

“I’d spectate events that are Combo Breaker staples like the mystery game tournament, where every round the game is a mystery, like which floor I’d be passing out on later that night,” explained Gaines who will be breaking that tradition by resting easy in his own bed tonight. “Later I’d spend $100 in an auction tournament and lose first round, but it’d be alright because I could still win that money back in side bets later.”

“I’d play countless games in the 24 hour ballroom, making new friends and catching up with old ones” reminisced Gaines, the well nourished and well slept man who has attended the last 4 Combo Breakers. “I’d play all the demos, visit the artists alley, and eventually get lost in a perplexing fake indoor Bourbon Street before heading back to my room.”

“After an amazing night of hype matches and incredible moments I’d finally find myself back at our room,” recollected Gaines, whose back feels great for the first Memorial Day weekend in 5 years. “To close out the night I’d find the last corner available in the room, grab an extra bath towel to use as a blanket, pass out to the distant sound of pressed buttons, and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.”

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio